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If I Was 22 Again and Just Starting My Career, Here’s the Life-Changing Advice I’d Give Myself

by | Mar 21, 2023 | Life Hacks

Careers aren’t straight lines on a graph anymore that lead to corner offices.

That dream is dead. The concept of physical offices is even out the door. Yay. At age 22, I was a young, dumb, bum that knew nothing.

I had no proper mentors and zero job prospects. I couldn’t even take the traditional path because I didn’t have a degree — just a useless sound engineering qualification that made me sound like a hippie.

Here’s the advice I’d give myself back then, now, at age 36. Some of these lessons will help your career if you feel lost or are on a mindless path.

Stop applying for jobs

Artificial intelligence made applying for jobs useless.

A bot reads your resume every time you apply online. This is literally the worst way to build a career.

Instead, become a job magnet.

All that means is you attract jobs to you rather than having to go find them. The stupid-simple way I know how to do that is with LinkedIn.

99% of LinkedIn users never share their ideas or post anything. If you happen to become one of the 1% who does, then people will notice you. They’ll see your style and learn about what you have to teach.

If you do it for 6–12 months you’ll start to get comments and DMs. Those people who reach out will end up handing you opportunities.

It makes for a damn amazing career.

Every conversation is a mock job interview

Took me 10 years to learn this lesson.

Every customer, supplier, colleague and leader you work with could offer you a paid opportunity in the future.

All you have to do is impress them which isn’t hard to do given most workers are average and do the bare minimum.

Dare to wow people. Do more than you’re asked. Show some energy, some personality. Have fun. Treat others like Kings and Queens. Pretty soon all those mock job interview conversations you’re having will lead to new career opportunities you can’t apply for using the traditional approach.

That’s how I got a job working with the biggest tech companies internationally.

I’d often get graduates asking me how they could apply for a similar job. I had to explain that opportunities like that aren’t created and happen via referrals. Learn this lesson early to get an unfair advantage.

Collect grads like nerds collect Pokemon cards

Graduates have superpowers.

They’re often young and naive and their minds haven’t been destroyed by the corporate machine yet. Whatever you do in your career, it won’t be possible to do by yourself. You’ll need help and a team.

Add grads to your network to inject youth and optimism into everything you do. Plus it gives you a chance to back up-and-comers. Uncovering hidden talent is another trait you’ll get noticed for too.

Don’t play presidential politics

When I started working at one particular new job, I threw people under the bus and acted like a wanker.

It happened because I had imposter syndrome.

I felt like I had to prove myself and the only value I had at the time was to create factions and alienate people ahead of me. Politics is a trap. People talk. And the truth about you will always come out.

Nobody likes a snitch.

Choose leaders — not jobs, brands, or salaries

A company has zero obligation to create a career path for you.

Many people go wrong at work because they expect their employer to give them a career path and a recipe for success. Instead, don’t worry about money, tech company brands that look cool, or fancy job titles.

Choose a great leader because wherever they go, you can follow. And a great leader will give a crap about your career and help guide you down the right path, even if it means they lose you from their team.

Leaders >

Mess around like you just don’t care, thanks to a cancer scare

A carefree attitude positively affects your career.

I got mine in 2015 when a nasty little cancer scare made me piss my pants at a little hospital in Melbourne.

After the diagnosis my brain got rewired. Nothing functioned the same again. I realized my whole perception of time was warped. I previously worked as if my career would last forever.

So get a nasty scare in your career and use it to provide free motivation.

Forget 5-year goals

Careers are too unpredictable.

If only we could see 5 years into the future, we’d all be millionaires. But 2008 happened, so did the September 11 attacks, the 2020 bat virus, the 2022 tech layoffs, and the run on banks in 2023.

Goals backed by systems and enabled by habits will take you much further than a wishy-washy vision a hipster guru smoking weed will give ya.

Embrace your inner redneck

Professionalism has turned workers into concrete statues.

They try so hard to act out their little part in business that nobody can relate to them. Their brains are just programmed for revenue, revenue, revenue. And transaction, transaction, transaction.

“But why Freddy? What’s the meaning of it all? Who are you, man?”

Nodoby the F knows. So we tune out because we’re looking at a human being advertisement.

Lean in to where you’re from. I’m Aussie. It takes about 30 seconds to know it. I’ll tell you about my 4 month old daughter, my overseas in-laws, and my 8 year old piece of crap Honda … without giving a hoot.

Because that’s who I am.

Show people in your career who you are, and cool people will stick to you like superglue while the rest follow the corporate sheep off a cliff.

Talk in actuals and direct actions (not fluff)

Resumes should be illegal. So should LinkedIn bios.

If you want to prove to someone how much you’re worth then talk in actuals. What parts of the project did you do? What revenue did you personally generate? Plus, what badass stories did you collect? Tell us some. Dare to be interesting.

Remove all the corporatisms and buzzwords (it makes you sound like a robot)

The language of business is so lifeless.

When I engage in the average business conversation I feel like I’m an Aussie in a room full of my Chinese relatives who’ve never been to Australia. Acronyms make the problem even worse.

Here’s a list of sayings to nuke from your head:

  • “This year is all about growth”
  • “Let’s add it to the meeting agenda”
  • “It’s important to be vulnerable and bring your whole self to work”
  • “You’ve got to add value” (what the F does this even mean???)
  • “It’s all about stakeholder engagement”
  • “Your personal brand is what helps your career grow”
  • “You need to get better at influencing”
  • “We’re going to disrupt the industry”
  • “Here’s our mission/values/vision”
  • “There’s a hiring freeze on.” Yep, and you’re freezing revenue and expanding everyone’s workload.
  • “We’re restructuring.” No, you’re just firing humans as if they’re pieces of trash.
  • “Let’s circle back to that”

Document the highlights and stories

Many people do amazing things in their careers.

The problem is they forget. They rely on their memories which is like relying on Homer Simpson to show up to work for you.

  • Document stories.
  • Write down career highlights.
  • Note down KPIs you smashed and customer/colleague feedback you get.

Then when the time comes to sell yourself for a job, promotion, or big, fat juicy bonus, you’ve got the goods and won’t fumble and become a boofhead.

Go out on your own before it’s too late (and regrets set in)

Jobs are fine.

But everyone should try owning a business or being a one-person business. It’s one of the most freeing careers you can have. But you’ll never know unless you find out.

I went out on my own 18 months ago. I had the ability to do it 9 years ago but I was too much of a wimp. Don’t make the same mistake, as it’ll eat you alive if you never find out or do it as a 90 year old grandpa/grandma.

Getting fired is bloody awesome

Wait, what?

Yep, I mean it. There’s always another boring job around the corner. You’re never going to run out of ’em.

***Does minions happy dance***

When I got fired it wiped the smile off my pretty little face. I had to go back out there and start again. The 6 month career gap it created made one recruiter say “this part of your resume to recruiters means you’re sh*t.”

I’ll never forget her words. At least the old mole was honest.

Getting fired is a reinvention. It’s when you realize you are a number in a spreadsheet and no “we-are-family” company really cares like they say they do. That’s good.

Now you’ll look after you and stop working slave hours and on weekends to jump through their circus hoops to earn peanut bonuses.

The final thing I wish I knew at 22 is…

We’ve got nothing to lose.

We’re born with nothing and we die with nothing. Everything in-between is a blank canvas we get to make art on. Ideally, you don’t color in that art by keeping inside the career lines. Make a mess.

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